Sacramento County supervisors backed away from a plan to ban roosters and other “crowing fowl” from residential areas after hearing from residents who said it was an affront to rural lifestyles and contradicted the region’s “farm-to-fork” mantra.
The board voted 4-1 to revoke a temporary ban on the birds they approved in July as part of a larger overhaul of the county’s zoning code. At the time, supervisors instructed staff to come back with a more detailed proposal to address complaints from some residents about the noise from the birds.
About 20 residents spoke to the board, all but one in opposition to the planned ban, which would have stopped anyone from having “crowing fowl,” roosters, geese, quacking ducks and guinea fowl” in unincorporated parts of the county with residential zoning.
“We enjoy hearing the noise,” said Marianne Brick, a veterinarian who works in Fair Oaks. “Why do we want to eliminate this?”
Roaming chickens have become an icon in Fair Oaks, and residents of the area and other unincorporated parts of the county sometimes broke into tears as they talked about how important the birds were to their culture. They considered them as pets, just like dogs or cats.
County staff studied codes and regulations in 32 jurisdictions across California to research “common requirements” on crowing fowl. West Sacramento, Sacramento, Folsom and other cities in the region have such restrictions.
Supervisor Susan Peters, the only board member in support of the ban, said she has fielded many complaints from residents about crowing fowl. She said she had been working with county staff to come up with an acceptable ban. Peters represents northeast county suburbs including Carmichael and Fair Oaks.
But the rest of the board agreed with residents who said existing laws could handle the problem.
The county already has an ordinance saying that such birds can only be kept on properties larger than 10,000 square feet. The county received 93 complaints about crowing fowl last year, and nearly all involved property less than that size, staff said.
The county also has an ordinance governing loud noise, staff said.
Supervisor Don Nottoli, whose district in southern Sacramento County is the most rural in the county, called the proposed ban “an overreach.”
Supervisor Phil Serna said he doesn’t receive many bird noise complaints in his urban Sacramento district. But he did think a ban would represent bad policy when the region is trying to market itself as a “farm-to-fork capital.”